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October 11, 2021 2:00 pm  #1


When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

Growing up in Southern Ontario, I'm guessing most of us watched either Capt. Mike on WBEN or Dave Thomas and Tom Jolls on Rocketship 7 and Commander Tom over on WKBW. There were Canadian shows and we watched those, too, but up until today, I never imagined kids in Buffalo were watching our stuff, as well. 

There was nothing but rerolls on local radio for the Thanksgiving weekend, so I tuned into WBEN-AM for the first time in years on Monday. And timing really is everything, because I couldn't believe what I heard. The host, David Bellavia, was discussing old TV commercial jingles for some reason and how they stick in your head even years later.  

And then he spent the next ten minutes saying something that blew my mind. The Buffalo born and raised kid used to watch Uncle Bobby off of CFTO. (I had no idea they could even get the station across the border, but it seems they did where he lived.) He was trying to remember the name of the Birthday Clown on that show and finally came up with Bimbo. That led to him singing the birthday song from memory repeatedly on the air, noting that the only time he heard it was when he was home sick. 

"I was running a fever," he recalled. "And hearing this bizarre "Bimbo! Bimbo!" song was like a nightmare to a sick kid." He almost compared it to being on psychedelics when you were young and infected! 

I always knew we were heavily influenced by kids TV from Buffalo. But up until today, I never dreamed that Buffalo kids were influenced by our guys, too. Imagine!

 

October 11, 2021 2:03 pm  #2


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

https://i.ibb.co/dLgnQP0/Commander-Tom-Ad-WKBW-TV-Sept-1968.jpg

     Thread Starter
 

October 11, 2021 2:07 pm  #3


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

And in the interest of creating a killer ear-worm, here is the original version of "Bimbo"  by Jim Reeves.



 

Last edited by Peter the K (October 11, 2021 2:07 pm)

 

October 11, 2021 2:27 pm  #4


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

For me,  it was Rocketship 7 and Commander Tom.

Last edited by Media Observer (October 11, 2021 2:27 pm)

 

October 11, 2021 4:10 pm  #5


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

The WBEN host was right. It IS kind of disturbing.

     Thread Starter
 

October 11, 2021 5:53 pm  #6


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

 Doesn't surprise me at all that children in Buffalo would watch some of the kids shows from Canada.  If they can get the signal off air, why wouldn't they?  The Canadian stations usually played different cartoons and some kids would want to see something new. Uncle Bobby was a quirky show, and would appeal to some kids.  I bet the Friendly Giant was popular too.  PBS later ran it for years.

People in Buffalo listened to Canadian radio as well in the. 50's into the 90's, maybe even today.   When CHUM dropped the top 40 music format in 1986, it was either channel 7 or maybe channel 4 that had a report on the format change.  They said that CHUM was the first station that teenagers in Western NY listened to for Top 40 music.   CHUM pre dated WKBW by over a year with top 40 music. 

 

October 11, 2021 7:53 pm  #7


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

I have to confess, like Media Observer, I was mostly weaned on the guys on Buffalo TV. (Given our frequent battles over CanCon, I guess that won't surprise you!) Uncle Mike (and later Capt. Mike) on WBEN and the two KB shows were always on in our household. 

https://i.ibb.co/TcK3M9t/WBEN-TV-Ad-Mike-Mearian-Nov-1957.jpg


But that doesn't mean I never turned the channel. I had no real interest in Uncle Bobby for some reason. He kind of creeped me out. And I have no memory at all of Randy Dandy on CHCH. But I do recall Cliff McKay and his lederhosen in Schnitzel House, ("Ya, dis IS ein Schnitzel House" - I wonder if they could get away with a guy pretending to have a German accent on TV today?)  and Bill Lawrence fronting Albert J. Steed and his dog Sebastien. (Why a horse had a dog never occurred to me until much later in life.)

And then there was this, which I grew out of quickly, but did watch on occasion. 

https://i.ibb.co/ZJ38xdm/House-Of-Frightenstein-AD-CHCH-Tv-Guide-May-16-1972.jpg


CBC's Razzle Dazzle with Al Hamel and Michelle Finney was another show I recall watching. And who can forget Trevor Evans as Kiddo the Clown on CFTO? (Believe me, I've tried - in the very last episode, his home was destroyed to make room for a subway, but it was really a convenient way for him to leave the show...)

https://i.ibb.co/xgTzgHb/CFTO-Kiddo-The-Clown-Isolated-March-19-1983.jpg

     Thread Starter
 

October 11, 2021 8:01 pm  #8


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV


     Thread Starter
 

October 11, 2021 8:13 pm  #9


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

Frightenstein theme...   "March of the Martians"







 

Last edited by Glen Warren (October 11, 2021 8:14 pm)

 

October 11, 2021 8:50 pm  #10


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

I did enjoy Rocketship 7 on WKBW, how could you not love Promo the Robot.  Never watched the kids shows on WBEN or WGR that I remember.  I do remember getting the chickenpox and not being able to join the other kids in my class on Razzle Dazzle.  I was heartbroken watching all of my classmates live on TV at 4pm while I was sitting sick at home. 

Here are six classic Canadian childrens shows that kids on either side of the border likely enjoyed...I really enjoyed Tales of the Wizard of OZ and the New Adventures of Pinocchio when I was a little one.  
https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/51484/6-classic-canadian-kids%E2%80%99-tv-shows
 

 

October 11, 2021 9:07 pm  #11


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

Thanks RA,  I had forgotten about Albert & Sebastian.   Watched my fair share of them, as well.

 

October 11, 2021 9:31 pm  #12


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

What a great article.

There was always one thing that drove me crazy as a kid about that Pinocchio cartoon. The opening lyrics of the song stated, "he could walk and talk and fly." To which he responded, "Do anything I try."

I never understood how he could fly. He was a piece of wood. It has no power of flight, even after being brought to life. Even as a kid, that bugged me. Which may tell you a lot about how I ended up this way!

     Thread Starter
 

October 11, 2021 9:37 pm  #13


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

Media Observer wrote:

Thanks RA,  I had forgotten about Albert & Sebastian.   Watched my fair share of them, as well.

I remember reading an article with Bill Lawrence talking about that show. He did the voices of all the puppets on tape. Sebastien would be sped up so you couldn't tell it was him. As for Albert J. Steed, he said he recorded a number of generic sayings like, "Measure twice, cut once," and other non-sequiturs.

At any given moment, the producer would play one of them at random, and even though it made no sense in the context of the scene, Lawrence would be forced to respond to it.

So he'd say something like, "yes Albert, that's always good advice," and then quickly move on, knowing Albert's intrusion was ridiculous. What a weird and very cheap show that was. But I watched it anyway!

     Thread Starter
 

October 12, 2021 8:13 am  #14


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

Yes I also watched Rocketship 7, Popeye's Playhouse [remember Space Angel?] Friendly Giant, Razzle Dazzle etc. In addition to these shows I also watched one of CFTO's very early attempts at children's programming. The Professor's Hideaway was introduced in 1961 and ran weekdays from 4-6pm. Stan Francis played the Professor. The Peter Kenter book TV North gives the series a brief synopsis.                                                                                                    The only reason I remember Albert J. Steed, is because my then six year old sister watched the show because she liked horses. I wanted to watch Hollywood Squares/Jeopardy. With only one tv in the house, Mom had to decide. She always sided with my sister. Life was so unfair!

 

October 12, 2021 8:30 am  #15


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

Lets not forget about the CN Tower article when firing up in 76 how it changed the american border with the canadian signals, CFTO being one to want to be known in Buffalo.

 

October 12, 2021 9:21 am  #16


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

markow202 wrote:

Lets not forget about the CN Tower article when firing up in 76 how it changed the american border with the canadian signals, CFTO being one to want to be known in Buffalo.

Yes John Bassett loudly pontificated about this a few times. When CFTO signed on getting the antennas pointed away from the south to lake Ontario, and when the CN Tower came into play, having Buffalo advertisers.  Don't know if CFTO actually ever did try to get any Buffalo advertising, they were already a very busy station and likely had all the business they could handle from the GTA.   Also economics was a big factor, during the 60's and 70's the Queen City and WNY were in economic and population decline.  North of the border growth and the economy generally were on fire. 

Last edited by paterson1 (October 12, 2021 9:21 am)

 

October 12, 2021 4:31 pm  #17


Re: When Buffalo Kids Watched Canadian TV

Media Observer wrote:

Thanks RA,  I had forgotten about Albert & Sebastian.   Watched my fair share of them, as well.

I'll second that.  I has totally forgotten about Albert & Sebastian as well but as soon as I heard those names murky images came into my mind along with a nice glass of partly-skimmed milk.

My personal fave on CHCH was "A Special Place" with Uncle Bill, Mr. Nickle and Penny.  Such a wonderfully innocent show.  Does anyone remember "Finder Reminder"? 

Strangely enough, it wasn't until I became an adult that I developed an appreciated for Billy Van's Hilarious House of Frightenstein.  Thought it was rediculous when it first aired.

Never cared much for Mr. Dressup or the Friendly Giant in the Summer.  But when I was home sick during the school year, nothing would be better than getting cozy in front of the TV with Mr. Dressup and the Friendly Giant.

Mornings for me (except in the summer) belonged to Rocketship 7 with Dave Thomas, Mr. Beeper, Promo the Robot and the Sweetleys.

There many others too numerous to mention.  The one nice thing is that the cartoons that were shown on the programs that carried them were uncensored.  But that's a whole different argument for another thread on another day.

 

Last edited by Peter the K (October 12, 2021 4:32 pm)